Voting closed for SDN children's services proposed Enterprise Agreement (EA) on 13 April. The EA contained pay increases of 9.75% over four years, an Educational Leader’s Allowance of $3000 per year and up to 12 weeks Paid Parental Leave.
However, it removed paid lunch breaks from the EA, effectively forcing full-time teachers to work an additional 100 minutes per week.
Teachers employed in SDN early learning centres already work eight hours per day, 48 weeks per year, so this change was perceived as a significant reduction to their current working conditions.
In addition, SDN demanded no time limitations on their ability to employ teachers in temporary positions, contrary to the maximum two years for specific purposes allowed in the Modern Award.
SDN continues to use the Practicum Supervision allowance to purchase new equipment for their centres, instead of paying the allowance directly to the Supervising Teacher.
In addition, SDN failed to advise bargaining representatives or employees that they had made a change to the draft wording to allow them to require teachers to attend meetings, undertake professional development and other directed activities during their allocated programming time.
Members reported that SDN also threatened that if employees voted against the proposed EA they would not receive a pay increase for five years.
Teachers and educators refused to be pressured into voting in favour of the EA and it was voted down by 63.6% of employees who voted.
Integricare: Positive progress
A new Integricare EA has been approved by Fair Work Commission and there are a number of improvements to current conditions.
The EA includes annual increases to salaries and allowances of 2%, the Educational Leader allowance has been almost doubled to $1 per hour and one hour per week will be provided to full-time Room Leaders to undertake critical reflection and room planning.
Teachers are entitled to two hours of programming time for up to 15 children or four hours for 16 or more children, with the ability to negotiate an additional hour per week as needed. In addition, teachers will be provided with up to eight hours per year non-contact time to prepare Transition to School Statements.
Integricare will pay the cost of up to 10 hours of NESA accredited training per year and teachers will accrue up to 10 hours time in lieu (TIL) for attendance at training.
WSU Early Learning – disappointing outcome
The Fair Work Commission recently approved the new WSUEL EA, which includes low annual increases to salaries and allowances of just 1.5%. WSUEL introduced unpaid lunch breaks, effectively forcing full-time employees to work an additional 150 minutes per week.
Study leave was increased to six days per year and paid parental leave increased from a maximum of six weeks at minimum wage to 10 weeks at minimum wage.
The IEU is disappointed that an employer who trains early childhood teachers and who should be advocating for pay parity sought to reduce working conditions significantly in exchange for poor annual increases.